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oliver (7451)

oliver
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http://users.ox.ac.uk/~oliver/

Data network admin for the University of Oxford. PAUSE ID "OLIVER".

Journal of oliver (7451)

Friday December 08, 2006
11:19 AM

MythTV tinkering: always a bad idea.

[ #31853 ]

The REST stuff has had to go on the backburner for a while, because I wrote down what needed to be done to start that, and it's a long list!

At work I've been setting up a new PostgreSQL server, and migrating a few of our systems to use DB schema, which has been interesting. For the uninitiated, a schema is a layer between the table and the database that allows logical grouping of tables. You can have one schema per app, say, and allow referential integrity between schema, whereas before you wouldn't have been able to directly refer to relations in another app's database.

I tend to avoid posting in journals when computers are giving me a hard time, and boy, this past weekend, it was just like that! I decided to re-image my MythTV system, for two ends: One was to change from RAID0 to RAID1, and the other was to upgrade Linux distro from FC4 to Ubuntu Edgy.

To be honest, this stuff is always a PITA. Myth is the kind of app that prefers to be run as a black box - once the thing's up and running just don't ever touch it again, and you'll be fine. Try to fiddle here and there, or update the odd package, and you'll be done for. So I should have expected the worst with a massive change like this, you're right. My big problem is that I have this great TV card called a Hauppauge PVR-350. I love it. It does MPEG2 encoding and decoding in hardware, and has the best quality TV-out of any graphics card I've ever seen. Sadly the Linux drivers are nowadays pretty much abandonware, and even the MythTV project has dropped official support. I can agree with their reasons, whilst still being upset, mind. I spent a frustrating day and a half pissing around with kernel modules and parameters, rebooting, and generally turning the air blue, before calling time on the card after three happy years.

Luckily for me, work had just upgraded my workstation graphics card and I had an Nvidia Geforce4 MX4000 sitting in the drawer. It's passively cooled, making it excellent for this application, and of course the binary drivers are nice and stable. It also has the TV-out I need to replace the Hauppauge card. I can report an immediate and noticeable loss in TV picture quality, but digital terrestrial is good enough to reveal that I suppose. The picture is just a little grainy, and washed out, but it's still leagues better than analogue. Having said that, SWMBO tends not to notice when Myth chooses to record from analogue rather than digital anyway, so we're hardly quality snobs!

Apart from that headache, the system's running like a dream under Edgy, and in fact I've implemented a few nice hacks that weren't in the old FC4 setup. I also use that box as a general GNU/Linux hacking system, so the wonderful, and beer-free, NX Server got installed. I can highly recommend it if you need remote desktop on a Linux box, but have (or want) SSH as your only means of remote access. Being a Kerberos fanboy, the system also gets setup to authenticate to the OX.AC.UK realm, so remote access into work becomes straightforward.

One last thing before I sign off. I'm looking forward to the London Perl Workshop tomorrow. I didn't manage to arrange to go in time for the last one, and it looks to be a nice lineup this year. I'll also bump into some new friends from MiltonKeynes.pm, and some old friends from London, I hope, making it a nice day out. See you there, maybe!

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